Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Can Each One Reach One - We Think So

“Guilt has never been part of it,” he said. “It’s excitement instead, presenting people with an opportunity — ‘you have an amazing chance to build a well!’ ”

We Think this guy is one of the smartest guys in the world. Scott Harrison took his place in history and our hearts when he gave his heart to Clean Water. We've written many pieces on water and fundamental rights of humans to clean water; but this guy gave it his all, by dashing his millionaires life to become a photog for a charity who focuses on Children, and of course Water.

All of us could do more to help, and we can all certainly help by spreading the word.

We're suggesting our blogging buddies make themselves a part of the effort. Do One Day a Week of Public Service Blogging and Feel the Rewards Instantly. Each One Reach One; and Each One Can Teach One.

Use Your Power Bloggers - Lets Save The Children,

Clean, Sexy Water


People always ask: What can I do to make a difference?

So many people in poor countries desperately need assistance. So many people in rich countries would like to help but fear their donations would line the pocket of a corrupt official or be lost in an aid bureaucracy. The result is a short circuit, leaving both sides unfulfilled.

That’s where Scott Harrison comes in.

Five years ago, Mr. Harrison was a nightclub promoter in Manhattan who spent his nights surrounded by friends in a blur of alcohol, cocaine and marijuana. He lived in a luxurious apartment and drove a BMW — but then on a vacation in South America he underwent a spiritual crisis.
“I realized I was the most selfish, sycophantic and miserable human being,” he recalled. “I was the worst person I knew.”

Mr. Harrison, now 33, found an aid organization that would accept him as a volunteer photographer — if he paid $500 a month to cover expenses. And so he did. The organization was Mercy Ships, a Christian aid group that performs surgeries in poor countries with volunteer doctors.

“The first person I photographed was a 14-year-old boy named Alfred, choking on a four-pound benign tumor in his mouth, filling up his whole mouth,” Mr. Harrison recalled. “He was suffocating on his own face. I just went into the corner and sobbed.”

A few weeks later, Mr. Harrison took Alfred — with the tumor now removed — back to his village in the West African country of Benin. “I saw everybody celebrating, because a few doctors had given up their vacation time,” he said.

Mercy Ships transformed Mr. Harrison as much as it did Alfred. Mr. Harrison returned to New York two years later with a plan: he would form a charity to provide clean water to save lives in poor countries. But by then, he was broke and sleeping on a friend’s couch.

Armed with nothing but a natural gift for promotion, and for wheedling donations from people, Mr. Harrison started his group, called charity: water — and it has been stunningly successful. In three years, he says, his group has raised $10 million (most of that last year alone) from 50,000 individual donors, providing clean water to nearly one million people in Africa and Asia.

The organization now has 11 full-time employees, almost twice as many unpaid interns, and more than half a million followers on Twitter (the United Nations has 3,000). New York City buses were plastered with free banners promoting his message, and Saks Fifth Avenue gave up its store windows to spread Mr. Harrison’s gospel about the need for clean water in Africa. American schools are signing up to raise money to build wells for schools in poor countries.

“Scott is an important marketing machine, lifting one of the most critical issues of our time in a way that is sexy and incredibly compelling — that’s his gift,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, head of the Acumen Fund, which invests in poor countries to overcome poverty.

Mr. Harrison doesn’t actually do the tough aid work in the field. He partners with humanitarian organizations and pays them to dig wells. In effect, he’s a fund-raiser and marketer — but that’s often the most difficult piece of the aid puzzle.

So what’s his secret? Mr. Harrison’s success seems to depend on three precepts:

  • First, ensure that every penny from new donors will go to projects in the field. He accomplishes this by cajoling his 500 most committed donors to cover all administrative costs.

  • Second, show donors the specific impact of their contributions. Mr. Harrison grants naming rights to wells. He posts photos and G.P.S. coordinates so donors can look up their wells on Google Earth. And in September, Mr. Harrison is going to roll out a new Web site that will match even the smallest donation to a particular project that can be tracked online.

  • Third, leap into new media and social networks. This spring, charity: water raised $250,000 through a “Twestival” — a series of meetings among followers on Twitter. Last year, it raised $965,000 by asking people with September birthdays to forgo presents and instead solicit cash to build wells in Ethiopia. The campaign went viral on the Web, partly because Mr. Harrison invests in clever, often sassy videos.

One popular video (Posted at the top of this blog post ) shows well-heeled Manhattanites stepping out of their luxury buildings and lining up to fill jerrycans with dirty water from a lake in Central Park. We watch a mother offer the murky water to her small children — and the upbeat message is: you can help ensure that other people don’t have do that, either.

Mr. Harrison’s underlying idea is that giving should be joyous, an infectious pleasure at the capacity to bring about change.

“Guilt has never been part of it,” he said. “It’s excitement instead, presenting people with an opportunity — ‘you have an amazing chance to build a well!’ ”


Shelly said...

Wow. For a person to be so reflective of their life at such a young age is inspiring. Mr. Harrison has done a wonderful thing here and I'm going to see what I can do to help. Thanks for posting this and getting the messaage out.

RE Ausetkmt said...

@Shelly this is a great guy. I think that some of my splogger visitors might want to see his story to realize that they can make an effort to do good and make a lil money in the process.

you'd think Graham would do something like this with the space on Entrecard. it could put entrecard in the positive, in more ways than one.

thanks for your comment as always Shelly

askcherlock said...

Thanks so much for bringing this issue to the fore. We can't afford not to reach out. Some food, some water, some kindness...can make a huge difference.

Dorothy L said...

There is so much tragedy in this world...it is very disheartening:(

askcherlock said...

What a great thing you are doing by bringing this to our attention. It just takes a little bit of selflessness to change lives, doesn't it? Thanks so much...you consistently bring awareness.

RE Ausetkmt said...

@Cher - we think that some of the worlds' suffering can be aleviated if we just choose to engage it, instead of ignoring it.

Thanks for your comments

RE Ausetkmt said...

@D, it makes me mad when I read about people spending millions on a stupid boat, or a house, and there are so many who are hungry, or homeless. when I read his story, I was compelled to share it and hope that by doing it, we would all feel compelled to share it, and a lil bit of ourselves in the process.

each one can reach one - you do it all the time D.

Thanks for your comments